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Summers are filled with barbeques, vacations, and caring for our landscapes.

Mulching is one gardening technique that can save you time and effort over a season or two giving you more time for fun. Organic mulches such as evergreen needles, shredded leaves, and woodchips conserve soil moisture, reduce weed problems and add organic mater as they break down improving the soil.

Spread a thin layer of mulch over the soil and around existing plants. Keep mulch away from tree trunks and crowns of plants to avoid rot and decline.

Avoid burying new plantings with this simple technique. Cover small plants with overturned containers and toss on the mulch. Once finished, lift off the pots, you'll find the plants safe and your garden neatly mulched.

Mulching can be done at planting or as time allows.

A bit more information: Cocoa bean shells are a popular mulch. The dark color and fine texture makes it an attractive mulch in flower gardens and mixed beds. I like to mix the cocoa bean shells with rice hulls. The rice hulls lift and separate the cocoa bean shells so the mulch dries out reducing the problem with slime mold. This mold, also known as dog vomit fungus, does not harm the plants it just looks bad. You can also lightly rake the mulch to speed drying and avoid this problem.

Avoid using cocoa bean shell mulch if you have dogs. As a dog owner you know chocolate can be deadly to your canine friends. No need to take a chance with your pet's health when there are so many mulch options available.


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